Parties battle for control of Ward 52

The 27-year-old has been chosen by his party to replace veteran politician Mayenzeke Sopaqa.

In the whole of Langa the areas in Ward 52 are the least developed areas with a massive influx of people. The development has been relatively slow and often compounded by regular shack fires.

However, for Mr John the challenges are not giving him sleepless nights. With the ANC having been in charge of the ward since the first local government elections, he admits though that they are going to have to do a lot of work to win the ward. However, he said, the ANC has over the years proved to be the only party that cared about the poor and promised to continue playing a positive role in community upliftment.

Mr John said political organisations often focused their attention on the ANC and forgot about the real challenges facing communities. He called for an end to “political games” and the start of the time to deliver services to the people.

Mr John added that there were also deep divisions in the ward which crippled development. “We are not speaking in one voice,” he said.

He added that young people, whom he believed were in the majority in the ward, had been sidelined by previous councillors when it came to budget allocations. His plans, however, are centred around the youth, he said.

“When young people complain, they don’t get help. These are the issues we have to deal with,” he said, emphasising the importance of skills development among young people. This, he said, would be achieved by getting the national government involved and by assisting with funding.

He also urged young people to be involved and to attend consultative meetings where crucial decisions about the development and the future of the ward were taken. “Education of our people is another talking point. People are not aware of programmes in their communities,” said Mr John.

Mr John also plans to establish a good working relationship with other community leaders “to address the issue of housing development and improve people’s living conditions”.

“Housing, employment and the empowerment of people is important. We will do what people want. We will provide houses for Intersite,” he said. “We will make sure that we provide services to our people. In fact we will be taking over the City of Cape Town after the elections. People must vote for the ANC for the speeding up of service delivery.”

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The urgent replacement of underground sewerage pipes and the refurbishment of the Zones (hostels for migrant labourers) top the list of items Thembela Klaas would deal with if elected to the position of ward councillor.

The 35-year-old EFF Ward 52 candidate said it was simply unacceptable that, more than 20 years into a democratic South Africa, people were still living in squalor.

“These hostels were built more than 50 years ago, and they are still in the same state,” he said.

Mr Klaas, a tour guide by profession, said under its current leadership, Langa was worse off in many respects. He bemoaned government failure to accommodate and offer opportunities for young people and complained about the destruction property, including the formerly vibrant Lwazi Centre. The centre, which in the past was used for various activities, especially for young peope, is now in ruins.

According to Mr Klaas, this has left hundreds of young people with nothing to do, and many of them being lured into criminal activities. He attributed this to “wrong leadership” that focused only on elderly people. He said young people were the future of the country and that more resources should be used to enhance their lvies.

Mr Klaas said since the first local government elections “we have been led by old people”. That, he said, had developed a level of uncertainty among young people and that no one had asked these young people why they “resort to drinking alcohol because they have got nothing to do in the ward,” said Mr Klaas.

He said the time had come to pass the baton to the youth to steer the community into a new direction with fresh ideas. His immediate plan would be the revival of the facility and the provision of the necessary infrastructure for young people.

The other glaring problem, he said, was the infestation of rodents due to poor refuse removal and meat vendors operating on the roadside.

“We need to look at everlasting solutions,” he said. These would include the provision of shelter, similar to kwaKhikhi in Gugulethu, to all the meat vendors. “By doing that we are not only cleaning the area, (but) also restoring their dignity,” said Mr Klaas.

He said these are issues he witnessed as a child and his plans have been warmly welcomed by the community. “Our infrastructure is old, it’s the old apartheid infrastructure (from a time) when we had fewer people. The numbers have increased so much and it is not coping,” he said.

Mr Klaas said because the area was for poor people, it was simply neglected and his party wanted to change that. “We are the last hope for the poor. EFF is for the poor people,” he said.

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The ageing sewerage system, coupled with slow refurbishment of Zones and the N2 housing crisis, are at the top of Michael Duna’s agenda. If elected Ward 52 councillor, the 53-year-old DA ward candidate said he would hit the ground running to fix some of the long outstanding problems in Langa. And Mr Duna believes the solution to Langa’s problems is in the DA’s hands.

He accused previous ANC councillors of failing to deliver services to the people of Joe Slovo, Intersite, Zones and N2 gateway housing. The four areas are Langa’s least developed areas, with an ever-increasing population.

Mr Duna said people in the Zones live under the most inhumane conditions, with families of two to four sharing a single room, while no assistance was forthcoming from government, which he attributed to the area being served by ineffective councillors. He said poor and old drainage systems worsened people’s living conditions and that previous councillors had not made themselves available when residents needed them, forcing people to seek help elsewhere. Because of his involvement in community structures, he said some residents often approached him for help.

“People complain all the time, but there is no help,” he said. “They sometimes come to me and I am always available and willing to help. I also follow up and deal with their problems.”

He said serving the community has always been his passion, but he could not do that under the banner of the ANC. “I don’t feel right when I see someone in trouble. My passion is helping other people. But as an ANC member I was forced to push the party’s agenda and that led to mistrust,” he said.”It was only when I joined the DA in 2013 that I felt I was being allowed to work freely.”

Mr Duna said his community involvement gave him better insight into challenges faced by the community. And he is ready to tackle all the problems. “I have already been playing that role. I have always been the voice for the community, communicating with the City. I sacrifice a lot of my time to help the people,” he said. He said the problem with most councillors is that they see themselves as better than the people they serve, and that often created tension between councillors and the people. “It is not a mistake voting for the DA,” he said.